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the ball poem
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Genre/Form / Medium
Title, Author and Publication details
"The Ball Poem",John Berryman, from the collection of The Dream Songs (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1969)
Context of the composer and text
1.John Allyn Berryman (originally John Allyn Smith) (Oct. 25, 1914 - Jan. 7, 1972) was an American poet, born in McAlester, Oklahoma. He was a major figure in American poetry in the second half of the 20th century and often considered one of the founders of the Confessional school of poetry. He was the author of The Dream Songs, which are playful, witty, and morose. Berryman's life was dominated by suicide. In 1926, when the poet was twelve, his father, John Smith, a banker in Florida, shot himself. After his father's death, the poet's mother remarried, and thus he came to his new surname of Berryman. The vision of his father's suicide haunted John Berryman's poetic imagination, and the subject is addressed indirectly in the Dream Songs several times and directly once, where the poet wishes that he could kill the corpse of his father. In 1972, Berryman's depression led him to follow the example of his father and to kill himself
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